England dealt Ashes blow with James Anderson expected to sit out first Test

Record wicked-taker forced to step back due to minor injury concern.

England's Ashes preparations have been dealt a blow with record wicket-taker James Anderson to miss the first Test in Brisbane.

Anderson was expected to lead the England attack in the Ashes opener, and he took a full part in training earlier this week.

However, a report in The Cricketer suggests Anderson has picked up a minor calf problem which will see him miss the first Test.

The PA news agency understands the decision has been made to leave him out of the squad, with a view to having him available by the time the series moves on to a day/night contest in Adelaide.

It would be no surprise if England have acted cautiously over Anderson's fitness.

The 39-year-old had just recovered from an earlier, more serious, calf injury coming into the 2019 Ashes on home soil but broke down with a recurrence on the first morning.

He left England a man down for the remainder of the match and played no further part in the series, which was drawn 2-2 as Australia retained the urn.

With bad weather forecast in the coming days and Anderson viewed as crucial for the second Test - where the pink Kookaburra is expected to swing under the floodlights - all signs pointed towards standing him down as soon as there were concerns.

While England will lose class, control and the small matter of 632 Test wickets in Anderson's absence, the presence of Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad mean England do not lack for experienced leaders of the attack.

Broad is currently coming back from a calf injury of his own, and will need to convince England he is not a fitness risk, but Woakes now seems likely to play as a bankable all-round option who stiffens the lower order.